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Monday, January 30, 2006


VATICAN CITY, JAN 30, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Dieter Althaus, minister-president of the Free State of Thuringen, Germany, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.

 - Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid, Spain.

 - Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, archbishop of Palermo, Italy.

  On Saturday, January 28, he received in separate audiences:

 - Karolos Papoulias, president of Greece, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.

 - Msgr. Antoni Stankiewicz, dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, and the College of Prelate Auditors of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 29, 2006 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus with thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope recalled that today is the World Day of Leprosy and called on the leaders of nations to take appropriate measures to tackle the disease.

  After recalling how the Day of Leprosy was initiated more then 50 years ago by Raoul Follereau and continues to be celebrated today, thanks to "associations that draw inspiration from his humanitarian work," the Pope addressed special greetings to those suffering from the disease. He also gave encouragement to "the missionaries, health care workers, and volunteers committed on this frontier in the service of mankind."

  "Leprosy," he went on, "is a symptom of a more serious and widespread evil: poverty. For this reason, following the footsteps of my predecessors, I renew the appeal to leaders of nations to unite their efforts in order to overcome the grave imbalances that still penalize a large part of humanity."

  In greetings to Polish pilgrims, the Holy Father made reference to yesterday evening's tragic accident in the city of Katowice, where many people lost their lives when the roof of an international exposition center collapsed as they were attending an exhibition on homing pigeons. "I entrust the deceased to God's mercy, uniting myself in spirit to their relatives and to those injured in the accident. To all I impart a heartfelt blessing."

  In closing, Benedict XVI greeted 5,000 young people from Catholic Action in Rome, gathered in St. Peter's Square to celebrate the close of the "month of peace." The Pope said: "I know that you have set yourselves to 'train for peace,' under the guidance of that great 'trainer,' Jesus. For this reason, I entrust you young people of Catholic Action the task I proposed to everyone in my Message of January 1: learn to say and act the truth, always. Thus will you become builders of peace." After the Pope's words, two young people from Catholic Action freed two white doves, symbols of peace, from the window of his study.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 29, 2006 (VIS) - The primacy of charity and its most privileged witnesses, in other words the saints, provided the central theme of the Pope's reflections this morning, before praying the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  Benedict XVI referred to his first Encyclical, "Deus caritas est," published last Wednesday, January 25, saying that saints "have all made of their lives, though with a thousand differing shades, a hymn to the God of Love." He particularly recalled those saints whose feast days are commemorated over this period and "who are very different from one another: the Apostle Paul with the disciples Timothy and Titus ... belong to the very roots of the Church, missionaries of the first evangelization. Thomas Aquinas, from the Middle Ages, is the model of a Catholic theologian who found Christ in the supreme synthesis of truth and love. Angela Merici, in the period of the Renaissance, proposed a way of sanctity for those who live in the lay state. In the modern age, we have John Bosco who, enflamed by the charity of Jesus the Good Shepherd, cared for disadvantaged children."

  "In truth," he continued, "the entire history of the Church is a history of sanctity, animated by the one Love which has its source in God. Indeed, only supernatural charity, such as that which flows ever new from the heart of Christ, can explain the prodigious flowering over the centuries of religious orders and institutes both male and female, as well as other forms of consecrated life. ... These men and women, whom the Spirit of Christ has formed as models of evangelical devotion, lead us to consider the importance of consecrated life as an expression, and a school, of charity."

  The Pope closed his comments by recalling how "on February 2, Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, the Church celebrates the Day of Consecrated Life. On that afternoon, as John Paul II used to like to do, I will preside at Mass in the Vatican Basilica. ... Together we will give thanks to God for the gift of consecrated life and pray that it may continue in the world as an eloquent sign of His merciful love."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 28, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Evreux, France, presented by Bishop Jacques David, upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Christian Nourrichard.

 - Appointed Bishop Vincenzo Apicella, auxiliary of Rome, as bishop of the suburbicarian diocese of Velletri-Segni (area 397, population 122,690, Catholics 119,690, priests 96, permanent deacons 12, religious 270), Italy. He succeeds Bishop Andrea Maria Erba B., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Msgr. Benedetto Tuzia, pastor of the parish of St. Robert Bellarmino, as auxiliary of Rome (area 881, population 2,787,206, Catholics 2,454,000, priests 5,390, permanent deacons 88, religious 26,530). The bishop-elect was born in Subiaco, Italy in 1944 and ordained a priest in 1969.

 - Appointed Msgr. Paul Alois Lakra, diocesan administrator of Gumla, India, as bishop of the same diocese (area 5,316, population 901,217, Catholics 150,296, priests 122, religious 277). The bishop-elect was born in Naditoli, India in 1955 and ordained a priest in 1988.

 - Appointed Bishop Rodrigo Aguilar Martinez of Matehuala, Mexico, as bishop of Tehuacan (area 6,294, population 967,471, Catholics 919,126, priests 96, religious 153), Mexico.

 - Appointed Fr. Wojciech Giertych O.P., theologian of the Pontifical Household, as consultor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

 - Erected the new diocese of Nongstoin (area 5,247, population 313,723, Catholics 75,715, priests 18, religious 61) India, with territory taken from the archdiocese of Shillong, making it a suffragan of same metropolitan church. He appointed Fr. Victor Lyngdoh, pastor of the cathedral of Shillong, as first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Wahlang, India in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1987.

- Erected the new diocese of Jowai (area 3,819, population 293,229, Catholics 59,095, priests 17, religious 45) India, with territory taken from the archdiocese of Shillong, making it a suffragan of same metropolitan church. He appointed Fr. Vincent Kympat, pastor and director of the Laity Formation Center in Shillong, as first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Mawsurong, India in 1946 and ordained a priest in 1977.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 28, 2006 (VIS) - "Lord, if You will, you can make me clean," is this year's theme for the 53rd World Day of Leprosy, which is celebrated on Sunday, January 29. For the occasion, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, has prepared a message addressed to presidents of national episcopal conferences and to bishops in charge of pastoral health care ministry.

  The Church on this Day, writes the Cardinal, "wishes to listen to the very many people in the world who are still afflicted by Hansen's disease. ... [She] wants to give voice to their cry for help so that all of us together feel involved, with our various capacities and responsibilities, in the commitment to offer practical answers for the care and treatment of those suffering from leprosy."

  Cardinal Lozano goes on to recall how scientific and pharmacological progress now enable leprosy to be treated in its early stages, however there remain, he writes, "broad swathes of sick people and vast regions of the world that do not yet have these possibilities at the level of treatment."

  Quoting statistics of the World Health Organization, the president of the Pontifical Council enumerates the declared cases of leprosy in the world at the beginning of 2005: 47,596 in Africa, 36,877 in America, 186,182 in South East Asia, 5,398 in the Eastern Mediterranean, and 10,010 in the West Pacific. He also identifies a certain regression in the disease: "from 763,263 people suffering from leprosy in 2001, the figure fell to 407,791 in 2004." His message continues: "The just and shared satisfaction at the results that have been achieved in the fight against Hansen's disease should not mean less commitment or that the permanent needs, the endemic causes of the disease, the prejudices that still exist... should be forgotten. ... A decisive effort could be made to finally, and in every part of the world, eliminate the disease of leprosy."

  The prelate then invites national and international bodies, non-governmental organizations, and local Churches to coordinate their efforts "to respond in a more effective way to contemporary needs at the level of prevention and the treatment of people who are at risk or are already affected by leprosy." He also calls for more effective channels "for the free distribution of pharmaceuticals," and highlights "the need to create and train ... groups of social and health care workers who are able to act in the local areas, diagnosing in good time the presence of this disease and treating it."

  At the end of his message, Cardinal Lozano expresses gratitude for the efforts of Christian communities and missionaries "in the fight against the disease of leprosy and in providing loving care to people afflicted by it." He concludes by emphasizing how "the Church has always in so many countries of the world worked with total devotion to the welcoming ... and the social reintegration of those who have, or have had, leprosy. ... On January 29, in particular, we invite our communities to remember, during the Eucharistic celebration of the Total Body of Christ, the many people and families that still suffer because of the disease."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 28, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, the dean, judges, promoters of justice, defenders of the bond, officials and lawyers of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, were received by the Pope for the occasion of the inauguration of the judicial year.

  In his remarks to them, the Pope recalled how part of John Paul II's vast legacy of teachings on the subject of canon law is contained in the Instruction "Dignitas connubii" concerning the procedures to be followed in causes of the nullity of marriage. "The greatest contribution of this Instruction, which I trust is fully applied by ecclesial tribunals, consists in indicating the measure and manner in which, in causes of the nullity of marriage, the norms contained in the respective canons ... should be applied, while observing the special norms for causes concerning the state of persons, or for causes concerning the public good."

  The Pope pointed out that, during last October's Synod on the Eucharist, the Synod Fathers had "called on ecclesiastical courts to make every effort to ensure that members of the faithful not canonically married may, as soon as possible, regularize their domestic situations" and so resume communion. On the other hand, he continued, "canonical legislation and the recent Instruction would seem would seem to place limits on that pastoral proposal, as if the principle concern were to fulfil the legal formalities, while losing sight of the pastoral aims of the legal process. Concealed behind such an approach is a supposed conflict between law and pastoral care in general."

  "In this my first meeting with you," Pope Benedict went on, "I prefer to concentrate on an aspect that represents the main point of agreement between law and pastoral care: love for truth." In this context, he highlighted how "the aim of a court hearing is the declaration of truth by an impartial third party," after both sides have been offered a chance to present their case "in an appropriate space for discussion. ... All legal systems must tend, then, to ensure the objectivity, timeliness and effectiveness of the judges' decisions."

  The Holy Father then proceeded to point out how the courts can find themselves dealing with matters "that lie beyond the domain of the parties concerned, in as much as [such matters] concern the rights of the entire ecclesial community." It is in this field that "causes for declaring the nullity of marriage fall. Indeed, marriage in its dual dimension - natural and sacramental - is not something of which the spouses can dispose at will nor, given its social and public character, is it possible to imagine some form of self-declaration."

  After emphasizing that "no court hearing is per se 'against' the other party, as if the aim were to inflict some form of unjust punishment," the Pope said: "The aim of the hearing is, on the contrary, to declare the truth concerning the validity or invalidity of a specific marriage; in other words to pronounce on the reality that lies at the very foundation of the institution of the family, and that is of maximum concern to the Church and to civil society."

  The Holy Father then pointed out how "the criterion of the search for truth" leads us to consider another aspect of the legal question: "its pastoral value, which cannot be separated from the love for truth. Indeed, it can happen that pastoral charity sometimes becomes contaminated by complacent attitudes towards others. Such attitudes may seem pastoral, but in reality they do not respond to the good of individuals, or to that of the ecclesial community."

  "The truth sought in causes of the nullity of marriage is not ... an abstract truth, one completely removed from the good of individuals. It is a truth that is an integral part of the human and Christian journey of each faithful. Thus, it is extremely important that the declaration [of that truth] should come about in a reasonable span of time."

  The Pope also stressed the grave obligation to "bring the institutional activity of the Church in her tribunals ever closer to the faithful," the need to "seek to prevent nullity of marriage," and the importance of "efforts to help spouses resolve their difficulties and find a way of reconciliation."

  "I hope that these reflections," he concluded, "serve to help you better understand how the love for truth links the institution of canonical causes of the nullity of marriage with the authentic pastoral sensibility that must animate such causes. Seen in this light, the Instruction 'Dignitas connubii' and the concerns that emerged from the recent Synod, are in complete harmony."
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